arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

Historic Highway 80

Desert to Ocean Scenic Road Trip

Traversing 150 miles between San Diego and Yuma, Arizona, Historic Highway 80 winds its way through the scenic, chaparral-covered rolling hills of San Diego’s East County, coming to an end on the Pacific peninsula of Point Loma. Along this nostalgic route there are several charming towns and roadside wonders worth exploring.

1. Desert View Tower

Located on the easternmost portion of the highway, the 70-foot high Desert View Tower, built in 1922 as a tribute to early pioneers, welcomes travelers starting their Highway 80 road trip. In addition to breathtaking views of the desert floor below, the tower features a quirky Americana museum and boulder garden filled with whimsical painted animal rock carvings.

2. Jacumba Hot Springs

Soak in the scenery, as well as in the natural hot springs, at Jacumba Hot Springs, a small oasis featuring two pools of mineral water high in sodium, calcium and magnesium, believed to have healing properties for the body.

3. Olaf Wieghorst Western Heritage Center

Giddyup to the Olaf Wieghorst Western Heritage Center in El Cajon, paying tribute to artist Olaf Wieghorst, the "Dean of Western Art," who lived in San Diego for more than 40 years. The museum exhibits dozens of his paintings portraying the 19th century American West, including cowboys, Native Americans and settlers.

4. La Mesa Village

La Mesa Village has unique businesses to explore including art galleries, antique shops, clothing stores, cozy cafes and a variety of restaurants like Bo-Beau Kitchen to fuel up for the journey ahead. Traveling with little ones? Climb aboard the powerful locomotive parked at the free La Mesa Depot Museum, the city's oldest building in its original form and the sole surviving station from the San Diego-Cuyamaca Railway.

5. El Cajon Boulevard

Cruise on to El Cajon Boulevard, the historic stretch of road that originally connected San Diego's East County to the water. Much like the past, today the boulevard is lined with restaurants, shops and the historic Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club. Stop by and order a local beer from one of the recently opened breweries along the boulevard.

6. Balboa Park

Continue the road trip to the cultural heart of San Diego, Balboa Park. Explore the 17 museums, walk through the numerous gardens, take in the amazing architecture and make some time for a visit to the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

7. Cabrillo National Monument

End where modern day California began: Cabrillo National Monument, the western end point for the historic Highway 80. Take in the ocean and bay views from multiple outlook points, step back in time at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and learn the history of Juan Rodríquez Cabrillo all at San Diego's only national park.

Lucky Bonus - Casino Action

Try you luck at two popular casinos offering exciting gaming action just off the highway: Viejas Casino & Resort, which also features outlet shopping, bowling and outdoor concerts, and Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center.

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert
Find Your Open-Road Smile

Explore San Diego's epic roadways along with the best places for visitors to stop along the way and live out their SoCal road trip dreams.

Related Articles and Features

Deals just for you

Accommodation

Weekday Special

Humphreys Half Moon Inn
Valid: Mar 30 - May 27, 2021

Turn your weekdays into weekYAYs at Humphreys Half Moon Inn! Enjoy low rates from $109 when you book your Sunday - Thursday stay with us!

Accommodation

AAA & CAA Member Rate

Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside
Valid: Jan 13, 2021 - ongoing

AAA or CAA Members receive special savings when they book their 2021 stay at the Holiday Inn Bayside! Membership card must be presented at check in. Without proper membership ID discount cannot be...

Accommodation

Wine Wednesday

Bay Club Hotel & Marina
Valid: Aug 6, 2020 - ongoing

Wine Wednesday special at the Quarterdeck Restaurant and Bar. Half-priced bottles of all wines are available with the purchase of two lunch or dinner entrees. Cheers!

Events to check out

Event

Private Walking Tour of the Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
Apr 12 - ongoing

Reserve a private walking tour of the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn the stories behind the ornate Victorian buildings and tour the oldest building in the district - the 171 year old...

Event

Flagship 1 & 2 Hour Harbor Tours

Flagship Cruises & Events
Feb 11 - ongoing

Flagship harbor cruises are the most beautiful way to enjoy the best of San Diego. Take in the sights, sounds and stories of the bay on a relaxing cruise with a unique perspective on San Diego that...

Event

The World-Famous Winery Train Tour

San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours
Jan 4 - ongoing

Enjoy the breathtaking coastal scenery as we ride up and down the San Diego coast! Partake in guided historic strolls as we get on and off the train for visits to local urban wineries and...

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More

Partners

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China FlagChinaGermany FlagGermanyGreat Britain FlagGreat BritainJapan FlagJapanMexico FlagMexicoKorea FlagKoreaSwitzerland FlagSwitzerlandBrazil FlagBrazilFrance FlagFranceAustralia FlagAustraliaCanada FlagCanada USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Español Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish